Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock closed by coronavirus

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus on Israel’s shores, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders have been cautioning worshipers to stay away from religious sites.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

The coronavirus outbreak has caused the closures of the Temple Mount’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock until further notice, reports Reuters.

“The Islamic Waqf department decided to shut down the enclosed prayer places inside the blessed Aqsa Mosque, and until further notice, as a protective measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, the Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

As an alternative, the courtyards surrounding the two mosques will remain open for worshipers, said Al-Kiswani.

Considered to be the third holiest site in the Islamic faith, the place is believed to be where the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus on Israel’s shores, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders have been cautioning worshipers to stay away from religious sites.

On Thursday, Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef ruled that according to Jewish law, praying at the Western Wall, the last remaining wall from the Second Temple complex, should be avoided due to the danger of infection.

“No halachic (Jewish legal) instruction exists that would overrule the instructions of the Health Ministry,” said Rabbi Yosef. “The halachic instruction is to obey absolutely all the instructions of the Health Ministry without exception, and every order produced by them is a halachic order for all intents and purposes.”

Israel’s Ashenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau issued a similar edict on Thursday, saying, “requirement to take care of yourself in order to avoid hurting a fellow person supersedes even the requirement to take care of yourself for your own sake.”

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“The coronavirus can pass from a completely healthy person to someone else and endanger that second person. That means absolute obedience to the instructions [of health officials] is required, even if they are difficult and inconvenient,” he said.

Following the outbreak of the deadly virus in Bethlehem earlier this month, the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Jesus was born according to the Christian faith, closed its doors until further notice.

“We respect the authorities’ decision because safety comes first,” an unnamed church official told France24 at the time.